What Did the Super Bowl Really Tell  Us?


Did you know that in the average NFL game the ball is in play for only about 10% of the time? About 18 minutes. NBC’s coverage was a 9 hour broadcast. A lot of people who watch big events like the Super Bowl don’t care a whole lot about the actual game. For many it’s all about the shared experience. This experience can be as much about what happens around the ‘main event’ as the main event itself (eg. halftime show, adverts, celebrity chat).

PSA: if you recognized everyone in the Superbowl halftime show, it's time to schedule your first colonoscopy.@NedStaebler

The online commentary on the halftime show this year tapped into the fun of intergenerational discourse more than we’ve ever seen before. Gen Z didn’t recognise many of the nostalgic acts that made the stage (Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg are in their 50’s!), 50 cent couldn’t get his own lip-synced lyrics right, and Snoop Dogg might have smoked weed before getting on stage…huge if true.


The record was broken for the most Super Bowl ads that mentioned climate-related issues this year. More than twice as many climate-related ads were aired than during any previous year's game. Rick Suter, editor for USA Today’s Ad Meter (which has been tracking and rating Super Bowl ads for 34 years!) says that Super Bowl ads are like “parts of a time capsule of where we are in society”. It may be no surprise to discover that electric car brands led the way - creating a ‘defining point’ of buzz around them. Like many Super Bowl ads, these spots are like mini movies (this year General Motors has Dr. Evil plot to save the world so that he can take over it), helping to get people talking. While EV’s are certainly not THE solution to climate change, they are an important piece of the transition puzzle. This uptake in creative storytelling around positive behaviours & messaging around sustainable lifestyles clearly signifies the issue being on the agenda for many more people as time goes on.

Beyond the ads, there was also a focus on the actual sustainability of stadium operations - there were pints available from aluminum cups (for $21) and outrage at the thought of dance performers being asked to do unpaid work. It was encouraging to see the conversation getting louder around fan missions via private jets too!


While the 2021 game featured spots saluting the nation’s resilience approaching the first anniversary of the pandemic, this year, with the second anniversary looming, people aren’t in the mood for reflection. They want escape.” Toni Fitzgerald, Forbes

Laughter is the big mood this year. Even when it comes to serious topics. After the few years we’ve all been through, there’s no big explainer needed as to why humour is proving a favourite creative device for ad world. Amazon, Rocket Homes & Rocket Mortgage & Lays and all went big on comic-led storytelling.


Crypto was all over the Super Bowl ad break, officially bringing blockchain to the mainstream. One of the most talked about ads was by Coinbase, because it simply consisted of a QR code bouncing across the screen. The code offered free Bitcoin for customers who signed up. Reportedly it led to 20 million hits on the website in one minute and it became the #2 downloaded app on iPhone the following morning!

Another great take sees Larry David bring a healthy dose of skepticism for crypto company FTX Trading. Other brands outside of the crypto industry used the night to promote blockchain tech via NFT drops (Bud Light). Our big takeaway here is that the FOMO narratives around blockchain and cryptocurrencies are driving more intrigue and consideration way beyond the early adopters now. While these things move fast, it’s still early days. Many more people will likely want to see promises about ‘the future’ (of the internet/money) return value before really taking this space really seriously.


While Coinbase were quickly able to gauge the success of their efforts, for others it wasn’t as straightforward. Kantar’s effectiveness analysis tool found that the majority, 66%, of the ads released scored just ‘average’, highlighting the importance of getting it right and establishing your metrics of success when embarking on big campaigns like these. Big celebs don’t always equal big impact! The big take home for those creatives on the outside looking in was that simplicity in messaging is still the most important thing to keep top of mind:

You can very clearly tell what ads had a single minded message that was briefed in and kept through to the end, they were the ones that stood out. They were very clear with what they were trying to do, they were just trying to tell you one thing, it was easy to decipher, easy to unpack. You would remember that. Ads that had four or five messages in them, it was too much going on.” Saragh Killeen, Sr Manager Creative Content, Jameson US, Pernod Ricard

There are endless articles out there about the ‘best’ / top 10 Super Bowl ads - like this one. But the below were some others that caught our attention:

  • Squarespace’s Seashells tongue-twister spectacle starring Zendaya. Booking one of the biggest Gen Z talents of the moment is bound to get noticed by young entrepreneurs and creatives with a side-hustle. We enjoyed this Twitter thread by a creative that worked on the brief. And yes we’re currently hooked on Euphoria too.
  • Amazon's mind reading Alexa gave us a great laugh - an interesting take on tackling audience paranoia around listening tech in the home.
  • A special shout out for Lynsey Lohan’s big comeback. People are not talking about this enough!


A celebrity isn’t enough to get you noticed in marketing - there is still always a strategic and creative job to be done to land your single minded message in an impactful way.

The big cultural mood of the moment is twofold - having fun is high on the priority list while serious topics like sustainability are more and more important. Striking the right balance in your plans is key.